Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to Bedtime -

Remember those 5 posts I did on bedtime from February 16-28? Well Gretchen left this comment over the weekend so I am interrupting the series on Learning Abou Sex to comment further because this is a common problem.

Our 3 year old son will NOT stay in bed at bedtime. Getting him there is easy, but then we spend the next hour or two marching him back to his room...any suggestions???

2 and 3 year olds are learning to follow directions and testing th waters to see if their parents mean business.
  • So if you have established good sleep habits...
  • If you have made sure your child is worn out (and that they don't have any evening caffeine in their little bodies from soda or tea etc.)
  • If you have developed a rock solid bedtime routine that allows plenty of time for unwinding, cuddling, a story, and prayers...
  • If you have helped them learn self quieting
  • If you have given the child a lot of control through choices as part of the bedtime routine...
They are testing and here are some options...
  • During daytime hours practice putting stuffed animals to bed in pretend play with your child and say things like "what a good bear... he stays in his bed after prayers and hugs."
  • If they come out, don't say a word just firmly take their hand lead them back to their bedroom and let them know your expectation - "You need to stay in your bed now."
  • Or simply look at them and say with empathy, "Oh No, someone is out of their bed? I'll have to do something about that tomorrow. Don't worry about it." (The next day their needs to be a consequence like not going somewhere. You could also use the energy drain technique. )
  • Some parents just look a little firm and say, "Where are you supposed to be? " and then stands there until the child returns to bed themselves.
  • One parent I know simply brought a book and a chair into the hallway and sat down to read. The minute the little one stepped out of the bedroom they asked, "Where are you supposed to be?" No hugs or talks were provided just the expectation of an immediate return to bed. Some say, "You don't have to go to sleep but you do have to stay in bed." In our house I could also add, "If you need someone to talk to remember you can always pray.""
Having said all that... let me say again that this is such a normal part of childhood and parenting with preschoolers. A parent who is firm and consistent in how they handle this will get results over time. But bedtime does take time and consistency in these years and even though you might be craving an end to your day because you are tired this is not the time to lose your cool. Starting earlier might help.

One more thing - make sure you are a well rested parent. Fatigue makes for impatience and a short fuse in adults too.

I pray for the parents who read this almost daily. This is the most important job God will ever give you. You and your children are precious to Him! Jill :)


  1. Thank you! You've given me several suggestions that we haven't tried yet.

  2. Hi Everyone,
    These tips are great, just remember that you'll likely have to try a few to see which work...and then try 'em again a few weeks later when the cycle starts back up (speaking from experience here).

    If I could "interrupt" again though, we need your help! We have twin girls (almost 3). At dinner time (about 5:00) one sits & eats great while the other ALWAYS throws a fit, eats VERY little & begs to be held or get down from her chair. Her famous line now is, "My legs hurt!" This is paired with constant screaming & whining. We've tried everything from "L&L" (bedroom time..."So sad...we're going to have to do something about this later," etc.) and have even tried totally ignoring her. However, that just tortures us with a constant tantrum for the 15-20 mins. of family meal time.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated (bonus if it works). Thanks!


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